Repubblika expresses its renewed sadness and frustration at photographs of private individuals who last night vandalised mementos left by protesters in Great Siege Square, Valletta, 22 months to the day after the killing of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The vandals mocked, destroyed and trashed photographs of Daphne Caruana Galizia and a protest banner that said nothing that could be stretched to cause offence to anyone, except of course those who know who assassinated the journalist in 2017 and continue to hide the information. The poster stated the following: “Who would obstruct a public inquiry into a journalist’s assassination if they had nothing to hide?”
Given that last night’s occurrence has happened nearly every day in the last 22 months does not make it any easier for us to accept this behaviour. Nor is it any easier knowing that the government itself uses its employees to destroy these mementos several times a day, perhaps without the clownish mockery of the individuals photographed last night but with the cold and brutal force of state-perpetrated suppression.
Other European countries prosecute the vandalism of improvised public memorials marking the killing of public servants such as journalists on the basis of the fact that these are hate crimes. The persons in these photos never knew Daphne Caruana Galizia. She did not owe them money, she never knew them and never spoke badly of them. They are not exercising some personal freedom. They have publicly destroyed her image not because of who she is and what they might think of her but because of their hatred of what she represents: free and critical thinking.
An act against democracy cannot claim to be itself the exercise of a democratic right.
Effectively this vandalism is an act of uncompromising hatred of democracy. A democratic government is not only expected not to lead this undemocratic behaviour, as this one does, by its own anti-democratic example but to protect the exercise of free speech, public protest and the choice of any number of citizens to publicly call for truth and justice in the case of an assassination of a public servant such as a journalist. A democratic government is expected to condemn and seek to stop such behaviour.
This wanton vandalism saddens us. It even angers us. But it does not frighten us. The clowns that vandalise our protest site every day are intolerant and violent citizens unworthy of that name. But they are not the subject of our protest. The subject of our protest is those who allow and even encourage these persons to behave in this way, either voluntarily or perhaps as minions at their service, through the systematic indoctrination they propagate. The subject of our protest are the people who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia and will do anything to stop the country remembering they did so.
That’s why the protest memorial has already been replenished since the sorry scene of last night. And we’ll come back every time they do this until the truth is known and justice is served.